Behaviours – Distractions

What the Law Says

The law is very clear: you must not use a cell phone or other portable electronic device while driving, unless it is a hands-free device. Failure to abide by this rule is an offence subject to a fine, demerit points and, in the case of a repeat offence, an immediate suspension of the driver’s licence.

In brief

“Every driver of a road vehicle is prohibited from using a cell phone or any other portable electronic device designed to send or receive information or to be used for entertainment purposes, and from using a display screen. […] The driver of a road vehicle who is holding a portable electronic device in hand or in any other manner is presumed to be using the device.”

“The driver who consults the information displayed on a display screen, including that of a portable electronic device, or activates a screen function must respect all of the following conditions:

  • The screen (integrated into the vehicle or mounted on a bracket attached to the vehicle) displays only such information as is relevant to driving the vehicle or related to the operation of its usual equipment:
    • tire pressure
    • fuel consumption
    • driving mode (electric/fuel)
    • activation of various systems, such as four-wheel drive, traction control, parking assistance
    • road conditions, including obstacles and the condition of the pavement
    • weather conditions, such as visibility and temperature
    • itineraries (GPS)
  • The screen is placed so as not to obstruct the driver’s view, interfere with driving manoeuvres, prevent the operation of equipment or reduce its effectiveness and in a manner that does not present a risk of injury in an accident.
  • The screen is positioned and designed in such a way that the driver of the road vehicle can operate and consult it easily.

In other words…

Simply holding a portable electronic device in your hand or in any other manner (for example, between your shoulder and chin) while driving a road vehicle, for any reason, is illegal.

This prohibition does not apply to a driver whose vehicle is parked in a safe and legal place.

As soon as you are at the wheel of a road vehicle in a traffic lane, you are driving. Even when you are stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, you are driving!

Simply put, when you are driving, you cannot use your cell phone or any other electronic device to…

  • make or answer a call
  • read or send a text message
  • check your schedule
  • check the time
  • check your Facebook activity feed
  • select a playlist
  • surf the Internet
  • do anything else…

The same rule applies to…

  • all types of phones, from the oldest model to the latest
  • all types of digital tablets
  • all types of media players (music, video, etc.)
  • all types of laptops

Exceptions

The prohibition from holding a hand-held device that includes a telephone function does not apply:

  • to drivers of emergency vehicles in the performance of their duties, e.g. police officers, firefighters or ambulance attendants
  • in the case of a two-way radio, that is, a device that does not allow the parties to speak simultaneously—also known as a walkie-talkie, mobile transceiver, two-way portable radio or two-way transceiver
  • when a device is used to make a 9-1-1 call

Penalties

Using a cell phone or another portable electronic device, or consulting a display screen without complying with the rules for its installation and use, or handling it in any way, while driving, automatically leads to:

  • fines
    • First offence: $300 to $600
    • Repeat offence (within a two-year period): double the minimum fine, or $600
  • immediate licence suspension in the case of a repeat offence (within a two-year period):
    • First repeat offence: 3 days
    • Second repeat offence: 7 days
    • Third repeat offence: 30 days
  • 5 demerit points
Warning

Earphones or headphones

The law allows only drivers of road vehicles to wear a headphone or earphone in only one ear, in order for the driver to hear the sounds of the surrounding environment. It is strictly prohibited to wear headphones or earphones in both ears.

Penalties

  • Fines: $100 to $200